Japan this year was a unique experience. We were deeper into the country than we had ever been before. The entire team was together for the very first time. With obligations like the Kendama World Cup, it wasn’t easy to find time to just play and lace some tricks. We worked in some stompage for the sake of having memories of this classic era of the team. We are stoked to see it evolve.
Posts Tagged ‘kyoto’
2014 has been a huge year for Kendama, there have been so many memorable moments that it is hard to pick just one, so we decided to ask each of our pros what their favorite moment was. Sit back, relax, and read through these amazing stories as we bring 2014 to a close. From all of us here at KendamaUSA we would like to give a huge thanks to YOU the fans, with out all of you’re amazing support we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so here’s to another dama filled year! cheers!
There were so many great memories that were made in 2014 thanks to the wonderful team and family that is Kendama USA, that it’s hard to pick just one. From swimming with sea turtles in Hawaii after an awesome event to performing on sacred stages on islands in Japan, to the simpler things like interacting with the community, and redesigning our products and pro models.
One thing that stood out to me as a real highlight was giving a speech at the opening ceremony for the Kendama World Cup, in Hatsukaichi. When I first started playing kendama I never imagined that I would ever travel to Japan, or get to meet the infamous Kazuma Iwata, my favorite kendama-craftsman. But thanks to Kendama USA sending us to the KWC, I got to experience his hometown, which is also the actual birthplace of Kendama in Japan. I poured my heart out about how thankful I was for the growth the community has seen internationally, and enjoyed the moment of being honored for the community-building work I had done over the previous 6 years. At that moment I could feel that kendama had grown so much, and with or without my help it would continue to progress, grow, and evolve. Thanks to Jeremy and the entire Kendama USA team for making all of these awesome moments possible! see you in 2015!!!
2K14. A year of many definite big ups, and few downs! So that’s good! This is my last year in college @ Penn State University, so I haven’t had as much time as I have in the past to put forth to kendama practice/travel/competition. That doesn’t mean that my kendama has distanced itself from my everyday loops, in fact this year I had some major kendama career highlights.
V4’s: Having free range to design a pro model however I wanted produced an overflow of creative chaos in my brain. It felt good. Not having to cling to a theme let myself and the other guys really relate our own kendama to our personality, yet produced the challenge of having one shot to capture your ideal kendama. The process of back-n-forth communication and testing all the most miniscule tweaks from ken shape to paint type was awesome. All in all, beyond satidfied with the final pro model, the BREW DAMA is alive!!!
Kendama World Cup: How can this not be mentioned!? It was the first ever titled “World” kendama event, and all the homies/homettes were present and looking good! It’s hard for me to put a time like that into a minimal word count description, so I won’t dive in. Highlights were, ranking 16th overall in the comp, meeting a ridiculous amount of other peeps who share freakish hand eye coordination (fellow kendama players), and experience a new part of the world with culture/tradition very foreign to what I am used to! <3JAPAN<3
Random Day Kaizen Session: I believe the day was November 19th? Not entirely sure. But I’ve been playing kendama longer than most people in the US, and been with Kendama USA since almost theie near start. That being said, I’ve witnessed the evolution and progress that’s been made since…yup, the premiere line (secretly love still). In the past when we released a new line, it always seemed that issues, both big and small, would come up. Issues like paint durability, ivy rashes, engraving depths, butt heaviness, etc. This year was different. I finally got my first box of Kaizen’s fresh from the works. To be honest, I didn’t even play one that day, merely just looked at them, did some weight tests, and put them back in the box. About a day or two later when my classes were at a dull point I busted out the new light-pink kaizen. I played kendama for the next 2 hours straight. And had easily 10 self-realizations that this kendama was sturdy as shit. It played amazing! Just such a good feeling to see how far the company and kendama in general has come. Very humbling
A Kendama (Christmas) Story: This little edit really brought it back to my roots. Late night filming sessions with pizza, beer, homies, music, college apts, good vibes, etc. And who better to have your back than my man Bryan Scagline. I’ve known this fellow yinzer for quite some time now and ever since he was introduced to kendama he hasn’t for a second slowed down toward becoming future kendama style champ. Anywho, the night we spent filming this edit really brought me back to my edits #1-4 where sweating on indoor carpet tricks was a normal. Too much fun! Scagz Rulez!
My favorite moment from 2014 was during the Kendama world cup trip in Japan, but it wasn’t the contest itself that was my favorite and this is why. We landed in Japan at 6pm and had a long drive from the airport to Tamotsu’s house, when we arrived it was completely dark so we had no idea where we were or what our surroundings looked like. The next morning I woke up around 7am to find everyone else asleep, the Jet lag kept me from going back to sleep so I decided to get up. After taking a freezing cold but surprisingly refreshing shower I saw that Jake and Zack were awake as well, so we decided to take a walk around outside. As soon as I stepped outside I was in awe, the sun was just starting to rise over the mountains and we were surrounded by tons of bright green rice fields. We just wandered through the streets taking in the sounds of the birds and watching our step as tiny frogs would hop to safety into the rice fields. The calmness of that morning will stick with me forever. I would like to give a huge thank you to Jeremy Stephenson and everyone at Gloken for making this trip possible! Heres to 2015! Cheers!
Hosting the Van Jam, the grand opening of the Terra Kendama workshop in Vancouver. Players from across the US, Canada, and Japan came to Vancouver for the event on September 1st. We had a sort of ‘mini-tour’ leading up to the event, stopping at the battle in Seattle, and then Canada national yoyo championships the previous two days. Colin S won the game of DAMA tournament at the van jam, playing a handturned Mun Ebony Terra Kendama. It was an honour to host so many talented players in our workshop!
2014 was an amazing year for kendama. I got to travel all over the world MC’ing, competing, playing, and working on the new Kaizen line. One moment that stands out to me was in Japan during the Kendama World cup. It was the end of the trip and Tamotsu took everyone who was left to an epic swim spot in Nara. We spotted a perfect cliff jumping spot across the river. We jumped in and swam over to the cliff and began to investigate. It was perfect. We immediately started flipping and trying new flips off the rocks. After a moment I realized that it was everyone from the Kendama USA team that was on the rock and busting flips and it wasn’t a “hey everyone come jump off the cliff” deal. Everyone just naturally thought “LETS DO THIS!”. Everyone on the team really does have this urge to go nuts and jump off cliffs. At this moment I took a chance to be thankful for having the best Kendama family you could ask for and realized how many amazing people I have met through playing Kendama. We have traveled the world together and dedicated weeks and weeks to spreading the kendama love. So this New Years Eve I raise my glass to you Jero, Colin, Turner, Zack, Alex, Dave, TJ, Keith, and Haley! Happy Shreds year!
2014 has been a crazy year with the KendamaUSA family. We’ve been a lot of places with a lot of amazing people and I can’t express my thankfulness adequately for all the opportunity kendama has brought me. It’s hard to choose a favorite memory. The entire team together in Japan for the Kendama World Cup and traveling afterwards through the country was an unforgettable experience. Seeing the European kendama community firsthand was a dream come true, and the North American community has seen so many amazing events this last year as well; like the Kengarden Roots Tour, New York Toy Fair, Battle in Seattle, Minnesota Kendama Open, etc. etc.
I think I can say that my favorite memories from 2014 were being able to begin welcoming the new KendamaUSA Tribe team to the family. Wyatt Bray, Bryan Scagline, and Joris Schweppe are all amazing people and I can’t wait for the Tribe to grow. Seeing the excitement from these guys has brought me back to when I first was asked to join the KendamaUSA family. Nothing makes me happier than seeing people with the same excitement that I had my first time with the team.
With that note in mind I have to say that the people behind KendamaUSA and the team that that I’m blessed to be a part of is what made 2014 so special and memorable to me. Here’s to 2015 and another year of people coming together through kendama!”
My most memorable moment of 2014 took me a while to figure out due to all the amazing trips, awesome people I met and the experience of traveling who made me who I am today. The number one moment for me was the trip out to Hawaii with Jake, Haley and Dave for the first ever YoDAMA event held in Honolulu, Hawaii.
This was my first time traveling to Hawaii, so for that reason alone, I was so amped to head out there. This was one of the moments where I actually felt like a rockstar. We got to stay at one the nicest resorts I’ve ever seen, eat the most delicious food, and get bombarded by kids screaming our name and wanting our autograph. 1,800 competitors we went through in one day 5,000 people foot traffic throughout the mall just to see us! The craziest feeling ever. It was one of the most hectic days in my life but it’s a day I will never forget. Security escorts, non stop signing, performing Kendama and making dreams happen by being a role model and inspiring kids to never give up.
The rest of the trip we spent bouncing around the island filming, seeing the scenic spots of Hawaii and soaking up the sun with a few cocktails here and there. All with the greatest of friends that I’ve meet through this wooden toy. Thank you friends, family, supporters and most importantly, Kendama USA. Let’s kick 2015 off!
In the past year, I would have never expected to experience so many incredible memories with the kendama community. From massive events in Oahu, Hawaii to wandering around New York City to escaping the rain in Shibuya, Tokyo in hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, there are innumerable memories that have made this year unforgettable.
My first real event with the team was in Oahu, Hawaii with Dave, TJ and Jake at YoDama. The kendama scene in Hawaii blew my mind with 1,800 competitors and a crowd that filled a majority of Pearlridge mall. We were living the island dream; eating way too much good food and watching thunderstorms fill the sky from the balcony of our classy villa.
Traveling to the Kendama World Cup was my first time out of the country and was filled with experiences I never considered imaginable. Taking over the streets of Hatsukaichi with dama and dancing, firework nights, and cliff jumping in the rural prefecture of Nara, Japan were spent with some of my favorite people. Round two of Japan was just as great. TJ and I spent nearly a month traveling around doing gift shows with KIT, filming in Okinawa, exploring countless rooftops in Tokyo, overlooking the whole city from over 600 meters up in sky tree, running through the streets in the heaviest rain I’ve ever experienced, and impulsively taking a trip to Bangkok, Thailand. When Dave and Jake came out for the Catch and Flow, along with a bunch of other kendama teams, we explored the streets of Tokyo, found ourselves in karaoke bars and skating though the streets around our hotel.
I’ve seen places I never thought I would, met incredible people along the way and learned a lot about myself in the process. December 2014 marks one year with the KendamaUSA family and the memories have just begun!
My favorite moment was having the honor of plating on the sacred stage on Miyajima island, Japan.
See you in 2015!
Danish kendama player Thorkild May recently took home the Red Bull Catch & Flow Championship in Tokyo Japan. Check out all the madness in the video recap down below!
The UltraSuperNew Art gallery recently held a welcoming party for all the players from the Red Bull Catch & Flow! The reason for the event was the unavailing of the “kendamas Around The World” exhibit. With submissions from all over the world! Huge Thank you to Shimpei Kimura for making all of this possible! Check out all the submissions right here!
We could not be more proud here at kendamaUSA to have supplied the kendamas for this art gallery!!! Check out some of the pieces here!
Thats right a Red Bull Kendama Competition! Going down on September 13th, The best players from around the world will be fighting for the top spot! Kendama USA is proud to have a solid crew holding it down out there starting with:
Dave is one of the most innovative and creative Kendama players in the game. The way he combines both dancing and kendama is completely mind blowing!
TJ (aka) FUEGO! has been killing the game with his style and the ability to crush tricks with both hands! Keep an eye out for him!!
Haley is leading the way for both male and female players, her creative style mixed with the ability to perform is game changing!
The EKO is one of the biggest competitions of the year, with pros traveling from all over the world to compete! Check out the recap video from Emil Boda to see all the action go down!
Keith Matsumura has been keeping us updated while on the road, check out his blog post from the EKO as well!
Kendama USA teams up with GLOKEN to bring you Musous on a plane 2. Check out the team’s in flight entertainment as they make their way to Japan for the Kendama World Cup.
Believe it or not, this summer was the first time the entire Kendama USA team was together as one, in the same place. It’s alot to get nine people’s schedules to line up but the magic happened for the sake of our summer Japan trip for the Kendama World Cup.
After days and days of grinding, competition, performances, travel, and little sleep… we finally had a free day in Tamotsu’s parents home prefecture of Nara. This river spot is supposedly a go-to from his childhood. Within minutes of arriving some of the players scoped a potential jump spot across the way. Sessions ensued. Enjoy this laid-back edit.
The Kendama USA team attends the Gloken-hosted Kendama World Cup in Hatsukaichi, Japan. Practice and sessions ensue, Jake MC’s along with Nobuaki, and Keith and Zack make the finals.
Big ups to everyone that helped make the KWC possible, especially the entire gloken team and the Hatsukaitchi city officials. Special Thanks to Kazuma Iwata for the excellent trophy, and to Jeremy Stephenson for being the reason that we were all there.
Enjoy Kendama USA’s presence at the KWC 2014!
The first ‘Hawaii Adventures’ edit was an instant classic. Now you can enjoy footage & behind-the-scenes from our 2nd trip! the Kendama USA Hawaii Adventures Volume 2 edit is now live on our youtube page. Check it out! you might see yourself!
words by Keith Matsumura
Japan. It’s the birthplace of Kendama, and over one hundred years since the invention of this wooden skill toy that we all love so much, it’s still there and becoming more popular. For me this past summer, July of 2013 to be exact, I was able to travel to Japan to go to the World Kendama Open and the first ever Global Kendama Cup, which will make a return as the Kendama World Cup this coming July. I got to go in large part because of the prize money from my win at Dama Fest, and I can’t think of anything else I should have spent that money on instead. I got to go and meet some of the most legendary kendama players alive, as well as experience Japanese culture in a way I would never have imagined doing. Gloken (Global Kendamas Network) helped me out by letting me attach to their group of players and foreigners that were seeing Japan and going to the competitions. I can’t thank Mr. Imata and the Kubota family enough for housing me and feeding me while I was there!
A lot of players from outside of Japan made the trek as well. Matt Ballard, my good friend that I grew up with, came along with KROM and to shoot video (see above!). Rodney Ansell, Kristin Olinyk, and Alex Smith came from Canada, Thorkild May and Philip Eldridge came from Denmark, and Matt Decoteau and Trevor Starnes also came from the United States. These people plus our Japanese guides and friends composed a group of people that I had the time of my life with. It’s amazing what Kendama can do. It can bring people from all over the world to the same place to meet and do what they love together.
I even had the opportunity to meet Kazuma Iwata!
He met us on Miyajima Island and let us have the privilege of being the first people outside of the project to see the new Mugen Musous. Kazuma’s personal kendama that he was using was an emerald mugen. That day he told me that I could practice with and use his personal kendama for the World Kendama Open and Gloken Cup. He then went on to tell me that if I won Gloken Cup he would let me keep it. Well, I didn’t win. I tied Kenta Sakamoto for 3rd place with a loss to Satoru Akimoto (who better to lose to!), which I was ecstatic about except for the fact that I understood that this meant that I would need to give the emerald mugen back to Kazuma. Kazuma was not with us anymore and my instructions were to give it back to Tamotsu Kubota, who would get it back to Kazuma. We all went out to a park after Gloken Cup to set off fireworks, play kendama, and apparently to release all kinds of energy that we found somewhere. After it was all said and done, Tamotsu told me it was time to hand back the emerald mugen. I gave it back to him, only to be presented it as a gift from Kazuma right back. As far as epic moments in my life go, this was certainly near the top. Thank you Kazuma!
Some of us got together for a group photo during World Kendama Open.
I also had a really great time getting to know and hang out with Easy from Zoomadanke (Hiroki Iijima). My last day in Japan was spent with just Tamotsu and Iji. We ate good food, got too many mosquito bites trying to film around a small river, and sessioned in the train station for an hour or two before Easy’s train left.
I was there in Japan for less than a couple of weeks, maybe really just a bit over a week, but it was without a doubt some of the best times in my life. I had so much fun there it’s indescribable. More than that, though, was my joy in getting to be immersed in Japanese and Kendama culture entirely for a little while. I’m half Japanese myself, and because of that I have always been interested in that part of my heritage. I’ve wanted to see Japan since I was very little, and to get the chance to do it in such a fashion as I got to is amazing. I encourage all of you, if you ever have the chance to make it to Japan, do it, and enjoy the vending machines for me! (Everything comes in such small cans, I love it).
It was a big step for me in my kendama career to play kendama in Japan, even see the birthplace of Kendama, and hang out with legendary Japanese players. I can’t wait to go again someday. Huge thanks to KendamaUSA and Global Kendama Network for helping me and giving me the opportunity to live out dreams and do what I love. I’m working so that someday I can hopefully provide that same kind of dream-fulfilling opportunity to others.
Always have to get some food after playing Kendama all day long.
A personal thank you goes to Tamotsu for making this trip work for me. You’re the man! (This picture was in the airport right before I left)
I hope you all enjoy the video from the trip, and if you read what I had to say than I hope you enjoyed that too!
Dama on friends, here’s to community and good times with Kendama!
- Keith M.